Posts Tagged ‘Communist Manifesto’

James Lindsay on the Queer Marxist Ideology Behind Drag Queen Story Hour

July 12, 2022

This month, I understand, is the British Pride Month, and either this weekend or last there were a number of Pride marches and events all across the country. Bristol had one in which the local constituency Labour parties marched to show their support, followed by a music festival in the evening. The weather back then was very nice and sunny, rather than today in Bristol, where it’s still hot but overcast. I hope everything went well and that everybody who went had a great time.

Increasing Opposition to Pride and Drag Events

There’s been increasing opposition in America to Pride marches, largely because of concerns over kink and nudity. These events have been promoted as child friendly, but some of the highly sexual displays during these marches really aren’t suitable for children. A number of gays are also put off by them, both in Britain and America. They feel that the concern for promoting trans rights has taken over from the marches’ original focus and purpose of promoting tolerance and acceptance for gays. And the trans focus has also caused concerns about children’s safety. At one of the American marches, the organisers were giving out binders, or stated they were prepared to give out binders, to girls as young as twelve. Binders are extremely tight bands placed around girls’ chests to prevent the breasts developing as part of the attempt to halt puberty in trans identified girls. Apart from the question of whether a pre-adolescent child has the wisdom and maturity to know if they genuinely are trans or not, when they can’t legally buy alcohol or tobacco, there are the health issues of the binders themselves. They’re so tight that they can cause a range of physiological damage, including to the spine and ribs.

There have also been attacks on drag events being promoted to children. This includes drag queen story hour, in which drag performers come into libraries to read or tell stories to young children. This has been explained as an initiative to combat homophobia and instil proper acceptance of gays to children. The right, on the other hand, suspect that it is really a form of grooming. Some of this criticism is is correct, and the performer has put on a display that it very definitely and obviously not suitable for children. Like the drag artiste hired by Reading Library a few months ago, who turned up with a d**do hanging from its crotch and a bare behind, dressed as a monkey. More recently, in the past few weeks there has been outcries as parents have taken children to gay and drag clubs to watch drag queens and trans strippers perform highly sexualised routines, some even stuffing money into their g strings or whatever. These displays have also upset individual members of the gay and drag communities. One drag queen, whose video was widely reposted on conservative YouTube channels, stated that drag shows were not suitable for children because of their highly sexual content. The artiste stated that children shouldn’t be taken to them. If children were going to turn out gay, then they could learn about their sexuality the way the drag queen and other gays had always done, back in their own rooms at home.

British Prime Time Drag Shows of the 70s and the British Music Hall

Now I have to say that I find drag queen story hour a little odd. I think it started in California, in either Los Angeles or San Francisco, cities which have very strong gay communities. I understand the purpose behind them of teaching children to accept gays naturally, as well as encouraging them to read. With the latter, I would have thought it more appropriate to have drag queens as one of a number of different, colourful performers appealing to children, such as clowns that aren’t scary, if there are such things, stage conjurers or puppeteers and so on. And I don’t think there’d be such questions about it if the drag queens were more like the drag acts on TV when I was a child. I was a junior kid in the 1970s, and I remember that Danny La Rue was one of the major hits of week day evening television. La Rue’s act was basically a continuation of the old music hall tradition, complete with songs. La Rue died a few years ago, and there has been nothing scandalous about him that has been published as some kind of revelation of his secret private life. I think it came out that he was gay, which I don’t think surprised or shocked anyone. As for his act, the worst I’ve heard about it is the joke that he wasn’t born, but found ‘on mother Kelly’s doorstep’, referring to one of the Music Hall songs he used to sing. Other drag acts of the ’70s included Hinge and Bracket, two musical ladies of a certain age who mixed songs at the piano with witty repartee. They’re long gone, but their programmes were repeated a few years ago on BBC Radio 4 Extra. As far as I know, no-one objected to their act all. More recently, back in the 90s there was Lily Savage, who was far less genteel than the previous two performers, but nevertheless a comedy favourite on British TV.

Postmodernist Marxism and Drag Queen Story Hour as a Tool of Indoctrination

But there does seem to be a sinister ideological component to drag queen story hour. James Lindsay in one of his videos on his New Discourses YouTube channel read out and critiqued an academic paper written by a drag queen, Lil Miss Hot Mess, and a transwoman called Harper Keenan,” Drag pedagogy: The playful practice of queer imagination in early childhood”. Hot Mess is the author of a children’s book, The Drag Performer’s Hips Go Swish-Swish-Swish. The article was published in an education periodical, and takes a postmodernist Marxist view of drag queen story hour. This goes far beyond using such performers as a way getting children used to gay people so as not to regard them as strange or an automatic threat. Rather, as Lindsay shows, the authors of this paper view it as a means of destroying the constraints on children’s minds and identities imposed by conventional society. Lindsay states that it follows the Marxist strategy, now a century old, of sexualising children in order to alienate them from their parents and the more conservative morals in wider society. The goal isn’t to produce psychologically stable and well-adjusted gay young people, who are accepted into society. Rather its goal is to produce unstable personalities so that the indoctrinated children ‘live queerly’ and reject conventional society and its institutions, including the family. This is attacked as a repressive institution, through which children are socialised into being conventional members of society who grow up, settle down and have families of their own, reproducing oppressive capitalist society while doing so. Instead the authority of their parents is to be underlined with the glitter drag queens spread, so that they grow up gay and connect instead with an alternative, real family in the drag culture.

Lindsay is an academic and a very powerful critic of the recent rise of radical postmodern ideologies such as Critical Race Theory, Queer Theory and Post-Colonial Theory, which appear to have ostensibly liberal goals, such as combating racism, homophobia and allowing the historical experience of persecuted ethnic minorities and colonised peoples to be heard. In fact these ideologies have a far more radical agenda of promoting Marxism and creating an intersectional radical milieu ready to rise up against normal, capitalist society. Lindsay compares this with the educational programme pushed through by Mao in Communist China. His video on drag queen story hour is one of a number of videos on ‘groomer schools’, in which he discusses the way some schools, including elite private schools, have adopted these ideologies in order to indoctrinate their students.

This is contentious, provocative stuff, which is why I’ve delayed blogging about it. I really didn’t want to post it on British Pride weekend because it would be too much like a gratuitous insult to ordinary gay people and their friends and supporters. Especially as Lindsay makes it very clear what he thinks about the pair of authors and their ideological Marxist fellows. He calls them groomers and states very clearly several times that they ought to be banged up in jail. And if they are using drag queen story hour to push an extremist political ideology through creating a queer revolutionary consciousness, which Queer Theorists differentiate from ‘gay’, then such people definitely shouldn’t be in schools. This is extremist politics, not a case of promoting gay or trans acceptance or encouraging kids to enjoy reading.

Queer Theory Attitude close to Parodies of Conspiracy Theories and Homophobia

But it’s also highly bizarre. So bizarre, in fact, that it seems like a caricature of some of the bonkers rubbish rags like The Scum were pushing in the early eighties. You know the rubbish – all that stuff about kids in Brent being told to sing ‘Ba Ba Green Sheep’ by anti-racist activists in schools, ’cause Bernie Grant or somebody thought the original lyrics were racist. It sounds like something just one step less ridiculous than the plot of Carry On Spying, in which the Carry On team were pitched against a Bond-type supervillain/villainess. This person was a hermaphrodite, both male and female, and was plotting to turn the world’s population into similar beings like him/herself. It’s also too close to a skit on Alas Smith and Jones, where the pair lampooned such prejudice in a spoof gameshow about finding ‘Bigot of the Year’. One of the rounds was entitled ‘Just A Bigot’, and asked the howlingly bigoted contestants the question ‘They’re evil, sick and shouldn’t be allowed. Who are they?’ The answers barked back included ‘bisexual social workers indoctrinating kids’. The question master then responds with ‘No, they’re all excellent demonstrations of bigotry, but the real answer is ‘Everyone except from me’. If this story was carried by the Heil, Depress, Scum or the Star, I’d honestly think their journalist had finally gone totally bonkers. You could imagine one of their hacks having strange, paranoid suspicions about Danny La Rue or RuPaul being some kind of Marxist criminal masterminds instead of performers. Pretty much like MI 5 when they investigated ‘Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men’ because somebody thought the nonsense language these beloved children’s characters spoke may have been coded Communist messages.

Drag Queens Can’t All be Revolutionary Marxists

But from the evidence of this paper, and Lindsay adds that there are many others, including one that tells readers how to organise a story hour in schools, there really is an extremist ideological programme behind them. This does raise questions about their suitability for young children in schools. But there are also other reasonable questions that can be asked about the supposed ideological dimension to drag queen story hours. First off, we don’t know how widespread this attitude to drag queen story hour is. Most of the people staging them, I should hazard a guess, probably aren’t ideologically committed Marxists or Marxians. They’re probably just ‘woke’ peeps who genuinely believe that they’re helping gay and trans people gain acceptance, rather than have any ulterior motive of creating the queer intersectional revolutionary class called for by Queer Theorists. I also don’t know how many drag performers actually share this ideology. The majority are probably just performers like the old style drag acts, who want to put on a show rather than push any kind of radical political agenda. Some do, like the group who sent their drag monkey to Reading Library, but not all. I did hear that there was a radical section of the gay community who didn’t want gay people to marry, because this was the gay community taking on the family values and morals of bourgeois society. But the number of gay men and women who are tying the knot suggests that this radical part of the gay community were probably no more than an unrepresentative fringe. My guess is that many of the drag queens going into schools to read probably see it as another job or performance without necessarily there being a further dimension beyond it.

And I note the article doesn’t say anything about the motives of the drag queens who first started the story hour across the Pond. We’re not told if they intended it to be part of some covert programme of Marxist indoctrination. The article declares that it is, simply because of what drag performers do during the story hour as part of their performance, answering questions from pupils about sexuality and gender and so on. But that simply could be a case of how they wish to see the drag performances in story hours, rather than what they are or were intended to be.

Criticism of Marxist Attacks on the Marriage and the Family

As for Marxist opposition to the family, this goes all the way back to the Communist Manifesto of 1848. Marx and Engels objected to marriage on feminist grounds, believing that it enslaved women and reduced them to the level of prostitutes. This was at a time when, under German and English law, a woman’s property automatically became that of her husband and women were very definitely social inferiors under the control of their husbands and fathers. I think as late as the ’60s and ’70s married women weren’t able to open bank accounts on their own without their husband’s consent. Lindsay has argued in other videos and podcasts that the radical opposition to the family and reorientation to include the gay community came from Herbert Marcuse, who founded intersectional Marxism in the 1960s. It was also part of a general radical movement for sexual liberation celebrating free love as well as different sexual orientations. But French postmodernist Marxists like Althusser also condemned the family as part of the institutions which supported first feudalism and then capitalism.

Society and the institution of marriage has changed in the past half century. Marriage has become far more egalitarian, and the Marxist historical critique of the development of marriage from the earliest beginnings of human society has been discredited. Engels, in his book, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, followed the anthropological ideas of the German author Backhofen in the latter’s book, Das Mutterrecht. Mutterrecht in German means ‘mother right’, and seems to have been the term Backhofen used for matriarchy. He believed that humanity had passed through a period of three stages in the development of the family. One was a period of general promiscuity, followed by a stage of matriarchal, female rule, which was finally superseded by contemporary patriarchy. This has been overturned by contemporary archaeological and palaeoarchaeological research. The pair also believed that marriage was withering away amongst the working class in their time. But this came from a very selective study of a local section of the working class in one of the British cities. In fact, marriage in general remained strong amongst the working class as it did in other ranks of society. And from what I’ve heard and read, the working class Communists in France and England were conventionally married men, who had no time for free love. Well, as the Joan Sim character says in Carry On – Don’t Lose Your Head, ‘I don’t mind the fraternity and equality, but I’m not having any of the liberties!’ The concern with sexual liberation is very much a development of 60s radicalism, though with roots in the calls for gay tolerance by earlier writers like the Edwardian sexologist Havelock Ellis in Britain and Richard Krafft-Ebbing, the author of Psychopathia Sexualis of 1886 in Germany.

Conclusion: Question the Ideology, But Don’t Attack Gay People

I think Lindsay’s right, and this paper should raise important questions regarding the suitability of drag queen story hour, but I believe it should be kept in proportion and should not become part of an all-out attack on the LGBTQ+ community in general. I am particularly aware that there is the danger of trans people being subject to abuse and attack, as described by some of the great commenters on this blog. I am also aware that conservatives like Matt Walsh are using the concerns about Pride and the trans ideology as a stick with which to beat the left. Over here, I found a video by Laurence Fox, the head honcho of Reclaim on how ‘woke’ schools are grooming children. At the end, Fox presents his programme for ending it. I intend to go through it very carefully and critique it at a later date.

In short, I believe Lindsay is right in that very serious questions have to made about the ideology, content and suitability of drag queen story hour. But this may mean no more than reforming it to prevent it being used as a guise for political activists to sneak their message into schools.

And reasonable concerns about the suitability of drag queen story hour shouldn’t be used to demonise gays or trans people.

I’m not posting the video as it’s long at about 2hrs 32 minutes, and I also didn’t want to upset people on here with the strength of Lindsay’s condemnations. If you want to watch it for yourself, it’s at Lindsay’s New Discourses YouTube channel, and is entitled Groomer Schools & Drag Queen Story Hour. The number for it is https://youtube.com/watch?v=aBv19E-fF7w&t=371s.

One Struggle: The People Oppressing the Indian Farmers Are Also Donors to the British Tories

May 5, 2021

As I’ve mentioned previously, last Friday I went to a Virtual pre-May Day rally on Zoom, put on as part of the Arise festival of left Labour ideas. It lasted for nearly an hour and a half, and featured great speakers from across the world, including our own Jeremy Corbyn. The international guests included Daniele Obono, a Black socialist politician from across the Channel in France, and peeps from Ghana, India and Latin America. They spoke about how people everywhere had to fight against exploitation from their own national elites, as well as combating racism, colonialism and the legacy of slavery. One of the speakers graphically showed how the poor African countries are very much at the mercy of the big multinationals with a story about Kenya and Vodaphone. The Kenyan government had asked the phone company not to give its shareholders their dividends this year, because the pay out would bankrupt the African nation.

I was also very much interested in the talk by an Indian lady about the appalling policies of Modi’s Hindu Supremacist government. This is the Indian nationalist BJP, which is extremely right-wing and bitterly intolerant of Islam, Christianity and Sikhism, as well as liberal Hindus, who believe in a secular, tolerant, pluralist India. The BJP are trying to privatise the state purchasing mechanism for the agricultural sectors. This was set up to guarantee a fair price to India’s farmers. However, the BJP are neoliberals and so want to hand it over to private entrepreneurs. This will force down prices, sending millions of farmers into abject poverty. There have been mass demonstrations and strikes against it right across India. She said that it’s the biggest protest movement in the world, number 250 million people. And Modi and his crew have reacted brutally, sending the police in to break up the protests, beat demonstrators and arrest the journalists covering them.

And guess what? Some of the businessmen backing Modi’s privatisation are also donors to the Tories over here.

This also shows how multinational capital is operating across the globe to impoverish and exploit working people.

A few months ago we had as guest speaker at a Virtual meeting of my local Labour party here in Bristol a member of Sikh community to talk about Modi’s attacks on the Indian farmers. Most of the farmers affected are Sikh, and so there are Sikh charities in this country which are giving aid to their coreligionists in India.

But it’s also very clear that working people across the world also need to unite to tackle the poverty and oppression created by capitalism because of the impact of globalisation. I am very definitely not a Communist, but Marx made this very clear in the slogan on the Communist Manifesto.

We really do need the workers of the world to unite. Because if we don’t, we will be in chains.

Vox Political: Government Raiding Pensions of Middle Income Groups

January 20, 2016

Yesterday, Mike over at Vox Political posted this piece at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/18/george-osbornes-plans-could-see-savers-lose-a-third-of-their-pension-in-tax-changes/ reporting that the government is closing a tax loophole for middle income savers. This could result in some of them losing as much as a third of the pension savings.

Mike has mixed feelings about this, as on the one hand it is a tax loophole, and so needs to be closed. On the other hand, Osbo certainly isn’t going for the super rich, who owe far more. He raises the question of whether it’s Osbo’s class bias showing.

Of course it is. It’s part of the ongoing destruction of the middle class by the rich in America, Britain and right across the world where the doctrine of free market capitalism and globalisation has been uncritically swallowed. I’ve posted up this very evening a video with the Pulitzer Prize winning American journalist, Chris Hedges. In it he describes how in private the rich have absolute contempt not just for the working class, but also for the middle class. And despite all the rhetoric of ‘meritocracy’ and creating opportunities, the Tories have been kicking away the ladder allowing people from the lower classes to rise socially since the days of Maggie Thatcher.

And let’s have no illusions. This is what free market capitalism is all about. Marx described it in The Communist Manifesto way back in 1848. If you read it, he states clearly that modern capitalism is forcing the lower middle class into the ranks of the workers. It wasn’t quite right. Later on there emerged gradations in the working class, which broke up its uniformity, which identify more with the establishment. Like the ‘aristocracy of labour’. And then opportunities for the working class to find a place within capitalism were provided by Anthony Crossland and his belief that the modern welfare system and subsidies to industry preserved capitalism by giving workers the necessary money to buy companies’ products, and so keep them afloat.

That was all destroyed by the Thatcherite Revolution. And as a result, everyone except the rich is becoming poorer, despite what the Economist and Telegraph yell at people.

This won’t necessarily result in growing support for Labour. The middle classes still, by and large, identify their interests with the rich, and prefer to kick downwards rather than punch upwards. Many of them – though probably not all – will swallow the lie that it’s all necessary to pay off the debt caused by ‘high-spending’ Labour. They’ll support even more right-wing policies, directed against the poor, the disabled and the unemployed, because they have swallowed the lie that they’re responsible for their poverty, as opposed to the virtuous, self-reliant middle class, who must now suffer because of their profligacy.

It’s time this lie was finally dealt a mortal blow, along with the Conservative’s policies, which are destroying the country and people’s lives and livelihoods.

Vaucanson and the First Strike against Automation

October 12, 2015

Living Dolls Cover

The week before last the BBC’s Panorama current affairs programme, amongst others, discussed the possible threat posed to jobs in Britain by further automation. There were extensive trailers for it, and the programme was plugged on that Monday’s six O’clock news. The usual opinions pro and contra were offered. One talking head for the automobile industry announced that there wouldn’t be massive job losses due to automation in the coming decades. They had already automated several of their factories, and as a result had to taken on hundreds, if not a thousand more people.

Well good luck to them.

For the rest of us, the news did not seem to be so bright and rosy. Panorama predicted that about a third of all jobs could go in the coming decades, particularly in the customer service industries. This meant, basically, that shop workers could look forward to losing their jobs due to the introduction of further machines like the self-service tills that have already been set up in libraries, shops and supermarkets. I got slightly irritated with this part of the news, due to bright and cheery way the presenter broke this piece of highly ominous forecasting. It was as if the spectre of millions more low paid workers being slung out of their jobs was just another piece of light, airy, and ultimately inconsequential pieces they usually put at the end of programmes, like the stories about surfing dogs and snails that enjoyed a pint.

There’s nothing new in this issue. It’s been around since the days of Ned Ludd in the Industrial Revolution, when craft workers facing unemployment rioted against the introduction of the new machines, which either replaced them, or reduced the need for their skills to mere ‘knacks’. Marx and Engels themselves protested against this in the Communist Manifesto.

Gaby Wood, in her book, Living Dolls, describes how the first modern strike against the replacement of human beings with machines occurred in 18th century France. The silk weavers struck against the invention of a new loom by Vaucanson, which made their skills obsolete by allowing almost anyone to operate it. Vaucanson was one of the leading makers of automata, creating mechanical people and creatures so lifelike that they raised and still raise disturbing questions about the nature of humanity and human uniqueness. Wood’s discussion of the strike is noteworthy for the way she takes the side of the workers, rather than castigate them for holding up the march of progress, as others have done. She writes

In his funerary tribute to Vaucanson, the Enlightenment mathematician and philosopher Condorcet defined a mechanician as one who ‘sometimes applies a new motor to machines, and sometimes makes machines perform operations which were previously forced to be reliant on the intelligence of men; or he is one who knows how to obtain from machines the most perfect and abundant products’. This, according to the silk workers of Lyon, was precisely Vaucanson’s wrongdoing. They rebelled against his automatic loom by pelting him with stones in the street; they insisted that their skills were needed, that no machine could replace them. In retaliation, Vaucanson built a loom manned by a donkey, from which a baroque floral fabric was produced, in order to prove, as he said, that ‘a horse, an ox or an ass can make cloth more beautiful and much more perfect than the most able silk workers’. This spiteful performance, surprising in the son of a craftsman, was the reverse of his golden duck: instead of producing excrement from a precious metal, he made luxurious silk emerge from the end of a live animal. The first was designed for man’s entertainment; the second was meant to show man that he was dispensable.

The biographers Doyon and Liaigre blame the silk workers for stalling the march of progress, for France’s Industrial Revolution lagging behind England’s; and Condorcet comments melodramatically that ‘whoever wishes to bring new enlightenment to men must expect to be persecuted’. The point of view of the workers seems to have been sidelined altogether in favour of the grant Enlightenment project. The Encyclopedie devoted sixteen pages (not including illustrations) to the making of silk and other stockings. ‘In what systems of metaphysics’, it reads, ‘does one find more of intelligence, wisdom, consequence, than in machines for spinning gold or making stockings? … What demonstration of Mathematics is more complicated than the mechanism of certain clocks?’ In the Encyclopedie’s illustrations, the men are secondary to the machinery. Vaucanson and his contemporaries contributed to a widespread sleight of hand: like wine into vinegar or base metal into gold, men were turned into machines. The new automata were not replicas, but real humans transformed. throughout the next century, factory workers came to feel they had been reduced to the mechanical pieces they were in charge of producing, hour after hour and day after day.

Gaby Wood, Living Dolls: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life (London: Faber and Faber 2002) 38.

There’s been that tension in process of mechanisation ever since, between deskilling and obsolescence, and industrial and scientific expansion, improvement and the emergence of new technical skills and industries. Kevin Warwick, the professor of cybernetics at Reading University, makes that very clear in his book, March of the Machines. Among the reasons he lists for automation are ‘reduction of labour costs’ – in other words, replacing expensive human labour with cheap machine production. I’ve a friend, who takes a very keen interest in these issues. He told me that we may well be at the end of the process, in which mechanisation creates new jobs as it replaces old. The traditional example is that of the mechanical digger. The number of people made unemployed through mechanical diggers, goes the saying, are made up for by the people taken on at the factory making them. Except with the mechanisation of the production of machines, this may now not be true. And so the kind of future predicted by some Science Fiction writers, of a society where there is mass unemployment and despair caused by mechanisation, may be about to become reality.

Welcome to the Megacity One of Judge Dredd, where nearly all the work is performed by robots, so that there is a 95 per cent unemployment rate.

I did wonder if some of the managers and engineers, confidently working on replacing their human workforce with machines would be quite so complacent about the process if they were faced with the same threat. Instead with retiring with plaudits, patents, and a generous pension, they had to look forward to joining the dole queue tomorrow, to be harangued by their job coach about how they were only being prevented from getting a job through their laziness. Then perhaps a few perspectives might change, and a few presenters on the Beeb might not be so jolly and complacent about millions more facing the dole.

The Demands of the Berlin Workers’ Central Committee

February 22, 2014

1848 Revolution Germany

F.G. Nordmann: The Barricades on the Kronen- and Freidrichstrasse on the 18th March 1848 by an Eyewitness

I found this manifesto of the demands by the Berlin Workers’ Central Committee during the continental revolutions of 1848 in the ‘Vormarz’ volume of the anthologies of German literature published by Reclam. Although it was written over a century and a half ago in Germany, their demands are still acutely relevant to early 21st century Britain. Over half of the demands made by the Berlin workers have or are being attacked by the Cameron and Clegg. I thought that these demands were worth putting up here, both as an historical document showing the aspirations of 19th century German workers, and as a comment on the way the Coalition’s reactionary regime is trying to destroy everything that has been achieved to improve working peoples’ lives since then.

I last did German at school over twenty years ago, and so I apologise for my highly rocky German. If anyone with a better grasp of German than me wishes to revise some of this, let me know, and I’ll post up the original for them to see and comment on.

The Demands of the Berlin Workers’ Central Committee, 18th June 1847

1. Determination of a minimum wage and working hours through a commission of workers and masters or employers.

2. Workers to unite for the maintenance of the living wage.

3. Lifting of indirect taxes, introduction of progressive incomes tax with the exemption of those, who only have life’s necessities.

4. The state to undertake free instruction, and, where it is necessary, the free education of youth with supervision for their abilities.

5. Free public libraries.

6. Regulation of the number of people learning a trade, which a master is allowed to have, through a commission of workers and employers.

7. Lifting of all exceptional laws on workers’ travel, namely those expressed in the itinerary books.
[This refers to the laws in Wilhelmine Germany limiting a worker’s ability to travel in search of work. Every worker was supposed to have a book listing his employment history. The laws were eventually abolished. The Labour Books, however, returned with the conscription of labour under the Nazis in the Third Reich.]

8. Lowering the voting age to 24.

9. Employment of the unemployed in state institutions, to which the state should provide a measure existence for their human needs.

10. Establishment of model workshops and the expansion of the already constituted public artisans’ workshops for the education of able workers.

11.The state to provide for the helpless and all invalided through work.

12. Comprehensive right to native country and freedom of movement.
[This is another attack on the laws limiting the right of workers to move around Germany. In this case, the laws that prevented them from going back to their homes.]

13. Limiting official tyranny over working people.

The above are only to be dismissed from their places through the decisive judgement of a Committee.

In its demands for commissions of workers and employers, the manifesto shows the influence of the continental system of ‘concertation’, in which both workers’ and employers’ groups are consulted and represented in governmental decision-making. It’s the type of corporativism that Edward Heath attempted to introduce into Britain in the 1970s, and which was abolished by Thatcher. What Thatcher resented was not corporativism per se, no matter what she might have said about promoting free trade, but the inclusion of workers’ groups and organisation in the process. Her government still continued to include private industry in the process of government, so that the Thatcher administration has been fairly described as ‘corporativism without the workers’.

The demands for the unemployed to be given work in state workshops, and for the establishment of model workshops, is less a demand for workhouses after the British model, than for a system of National Workshops as was proposed by the French Socialist, Louis Blanc. These were to be set up by the government, but managed co-operatively by the workers themselves. They were set up by the French government in that year, but deliberately poor funding and management by the authorities, which made the work pointless and degrading, undermined them and led to their collapse.

Now let’s see how these demands are faring under Cameron and Clegg.

1. The minimum wage and working hours. Almost from the start, the Coalition has introduced a series of measure designed to get round them. This has been done through workfare, which allows the participating firms to benefit from the unpaid labour of the unemployed; internships, where aspiring young trainees are also taken on without being paid; the new apprenticeship system, which also seems less concerned with training young workers as with allowing employers to pay them less than the minimum wage.

The zero hours system has also allowed employers to cut wages, by tying workers to their employers, who only employ them when they’re needed, and so don’t pay for them when they are not. The rest of the working population, on the other hand, has suffered from a massive expansion of the working week.

2. Union of workers for the fixed wage. Since Thatcher, successive governments have shown themselves hostile to labour unions, and have done their level best to undermine them and reduce the legislation protecting workers. New Labour in its last year or so of government repealed a vast tranche of labour legislation. The Coalition is, if anything, even more opposed to union and labour legislation, with Vince Cable sputtering all kinds of threats when the public sector unions threatened to strike a year or so ago.

3. Lifting of indirect taxes and introduction of progressive income tax. The Conservatives have hated and demanded the removal of incomes tax since the 1980s. I can remember the Sunday Times demanding the removal of incomes tax and its replacement by indirect taxes following the recommendations of the decade’s monetarist economists. Now George Osborne has raised VAT to 20 per cent, and cut incomes tax for the very right. The result has been a massive transfer of wealth from the working to the upper classes.

4. Free instruction and free education by the state. State education is something else that has been under attack by the Right since Thatcher. Milton Friedman urged the introduction of education vouchers, so that parents could have a choice between educating their children in the state or private sector. Guy Debord’s Cat has shown how Friedman’s reforms has led to massive inequalities in the Chilean educational system. Nevertheless, education vouchers were taken up by Ann Soper of the Social Democrats, amongst others.

The Coalition is intent on effectively privatising the school system, with schools taken out of the state system even when the governors themselves are opposed to the scheme. One of the left-wing blogs – I believe it may have been Another Angry Voice – also covered a school, which had effectively introduced school fees. The school was being run by an American company, which used its own, copyrighted curriculum. The company therefore charged the parents of the children at the school over £100 per year for their children’s use of the company’s curriculum materials.

5. Free public libraries. These have suffered massively under the Coalition’s ‘localism’ and ‘Big Society’ agendas. Central government funding has been cut, and libraries have been forced to close. The intention was that they should be taken over and run for free by local community groups. In fact, few groups have members with the necessary skills or experience to take over their management. Many of those that have survived have been forced to cut staff and opening hours.

8. Lowering of the voting age. This is again another hot issue, as the Scots Nationalist wish to reduce the voting age north of the border to 16. Young people tend to be more idealistic than their elders, who have had all their dreams of creating a just world hammered out of them by life. In Scotland they also tend to be more nationalistic than their elders. The Tories thus wish to keep the voting age at 18 as at present.

The Coalition have also altered the procedure for registration for voting, with what looks suspiciously like the intention to make it so complicated that many people will be unaware of the new regulations and so lose the franchise through default.

9. Employment of the unemployed in state institutions and support of their human needs. Osborne is a rabid Libertarian, and so despises any attempt by the state to directly interfere to promote growth through a programme of public works. It is nevertheless true that when the country has experienced a spurt of growth under Gideon, it’s been when he has adopted a Keynsian programme. So the modern equivalent of national workshops to provide work for the workers has been attacked and discarded by the Coalition.

There was a system of workshops like those advocated by the Berlin workers for the disabled. The Remploy workshops, however, have now been closed down by the Coalition, adding further hardship and unemployment for those with disabilities.

As for unemployment benefit, this has and continues to be savagely cut in order to create a pool of the unemployed and desperate in order to bring down wages. The result of this is that thousands have been thrown out of work and have no support due to benefit cuts and sanctions. As a result, people are being forced to use private charity and food banks. The country has therefore seen rising starvation and the return of diseases believed to have been banished since the 19th century.

10. Establishment of model workshops and the training of the able workers. The Coalition, as good Libertarians, are hostile to direct government intervention, and so have embarked on a comprehensive system of privatisation and the further undermining of workers’ employment rights. They are keen to support various training programmes for young workers, but these seem less about providing new skills, than inculcating the attitude in the unemployed that their inability to find a job is their own fault, rather than the government’s or the economy’s. As for the acquisition of new skills, this largely seems to be focused on computer literacy. This is indeed a vital skill, but it does not suit everyone and there seems to be little provision for the less academic. As for the new apprenticeship programme, this also seems simply a way to exploit trainee workers by not paying them the minimum wage. It also seems to be just another way to falsify the unemployment figures by claiming that the unemployed are in fact in work, while they are only on work placements and other temporary schemes.

11. The state to provide for the disabled. As with unemployment benefit, this is something else that has been savagely cut and undermined by the Coalition. Like the Jobcentres, Atos have been set quotas for people to be thrown off benefits by being falsely declared fit for work. The result has been a truly colossal death rate. As many as 38,000 per year may have died in poverty and hardship due to the governments cuts.

12. The right to one’s native country and freedom of movement. Britain in the 19th century did not have laws restricting workers’ freedom of movement as in Germany. However, rising housing costs and the Coalition’s cap of Housing Benefit is resulting in ‘social cleansing’, in which the poor are being forced out of more expensive, upmarket areas. This is especially true in London. Poor Black communities have been particularly hit, and there is resentment there about the way gentrification has forced them out of their neighbourhoods as these have been bought up by affluent, often extremely affluent, Whites.

13. Limitation of the tyranny of officials. Actually, the tyranny of officialdom over the unemployed has expanded massively under the Coalition. While there are genuinely understanding, caring staff at the Jobcentres, and even, surprisingly, within Atos, these are very much in the minority. Government policy is designed to make the process of signing on as humiliating and degrading as possible. Hence, you are harangued and pressured when you sign on. Many of the staff have real hate towards the unemployed. One female member of staff at one of the Jobcentres was caught on Facebook describing how she hated claimants and her joy at sanctioning them. Such abuse has been privatised under the Tories. An unemployed friend of mine has been repeatedly rung up at home by an employee of the company, that has the contract for getting him into work from the government. As a result, he is continually harangued by this clerk, who has claimed that they are somehow motivating him to find work.

As for workers only being sacked after a decisive judgement by an employment commission, Blair and New Labour did their level best to repeal these laws, and the Tories are pursuing the same policy with a vengeance. All in the interests of promoting a more fluid labour market, of course.

Many of the demands made by the Berlin workers in the 19th century, or their equivalents, are therefore under attack in Britain in the 21st century by a highly reactionary regime. Thatcher and the Libertarians looked back to the 19th century and Victorian values. As a result, post-Thatcher administrations have done much to remove the successes and advances of the 19th and early 20th centuries in improving the lives of the working and lower middle class. This is being done across the world in the name of globalisation and free trade, for the benefit of the multinationals paying the Tories and governments like them. It needs to be stopped. As Marx and Engels ended the Communist Manifesto, working people of all countries, unite!

Pride’s Purge on the Stealth Privatisation of the NHS to Atos

September 23, 2013

In an entirely serious piece, Pride’s Purge tells you what you can expect to be done to the British health service from the way it was privatised just across the North Sea in the Netherlands. it begins

‘The NHS is not being privatised with a bang – more with a sly, underhand whimper.

We only have to look to Holland – which privatised its health care system in 2006 – to see how it’s possible for the NHS to be privatised by stealth.

Following the Dutch example, privatisation is happening in three stages.

1) First of all provision of health services is handed over to private companies.

This is already well under way in the UK

2) Then control of the health budget is handed over to private commissioning consortiums made up of doctors and consultants.

This has already happened in the UK

3) Finally, the private commissioning consortiums themselves are taken over by private companies.

In the UK, already over a quarter of NHS Commissioning Consortiums are being run by consultancy firm KPMG.’

The Political Purgative then points out that KPMG was the global accountancy firm, whose French and Dutch branches were taken over by Atos.

The article’s here:
http://tompride.co.uk/how-atos-is-taking-over-the-nhs-by-stealth-under-a-different-name.

The article also shows us that, in this increasingly globalised world, we need to be increasingly aware of what the multinationals are doing in other countries. What is being done to their citizens, will be done to ours. In the slogan of the Communist Manifesto: Workingmen of all countries, unite!